Mommy Wars: <i>The Milky Way</i> vs. the American Way?

What is it with women in America and the fighting that goes on between them over how they feed their babies?
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What is it with women in America and the fighting that goes on between them over how they feed their babies?

Likely, many readers have heard about Internet brawls between nursing moms vs. bottle-feeders. Regardless of where we come from, what we've learned or our feeding preferences, breastfeeding is truly a polarizing subject -- but do we really need to fight with each other over it?

Could it be a symptom of mothers' place in American society? We are expected to be all that we can be without much of the actual support needed in order to do so. When women entered the workplace, a new set of problems was unleashed. Breastfeeding babies in daycare needed to bottle-feed while mom was at work. Nursing mothers had to either give up breastfeeding or find a way to pump their milk to send to daycare with baby.

Working and breastfeeding can be very difficult. Moms often have to overcome many hurdles just to provide their own milk for their babies. Should lactation accommodation become as important as toilet facilities? Many see this is as a special privilege, and the breaks taken to pump are "extra" and unfair.

What do women really want? Parents everywhere want the same things: to be able to provide a loving home, a safe and secure environment, give our children opportunities that we did not have, and for them to be physically and emotionally healthy.

Why are we fighting? The mommy wars pit woman against woman when we should be supporting each other and focusing our energy on changing our culture to a more mother-friendly one. But there's a business to feeding babies, with formula companies reaping huge profits from these mommy wars. They have massive advertising budgets to ensure women not only buy their product, but to buy into their product. What we feed our babies is very important to us. It becomes part of who we are as mothers.

Formula companies combined make 8 billion dollars a year from selling out mothers and babies. The monetary returns are well worth the money they invest in doctors' education, hospital design, pediatric organizations, research, as well as supplying free formula to hospitals, gift bags and breastfeeding "education" to mothers. The Milky Way exposes how breastfeeding failure is cleverly built into the services they offer. Formula companies have successfully brainwashed millions of moms, spending an average of 3 billion a year on their insidious marketing campaigns.

In many European countries, as The Milky Way discovers, the formula companies are not permitted to "market" to mothers. Breastfeeding is more accepted in public; and most countries have a better maternity leave than the U.S. Our capitalistic society has made a mint on the sexualizing of breasts, yet we've all but shut down the moms' personal milk manufacturing plants. Is it any wonder our breastfeeding success rate is one of the lowest in the world?

Jennifer and I are passionate about empowering mothers. We want women to have accurate information about their bodies and their babies so that they can make informed decisions without the influence of pervasive formula marketing strategies that target mothers.

The Milky Way reveals the real power vested in women's bodies and how that affects their babies -- even the tiniest of preemies. One of the primary goals for the film is to assure women that they have the tools they need to trust their instincts, and to know that each mother is truly the expert regarding her own baby. Our mantra is simple: trust your body. Trust your baby. Trust yourself.

Women can work together to identify and target the real obstacles that thwart our empowerment. We can fight together, instead of each other, for the necessary changes that will ensure the health and well being of women and babies.

The problem is too big for a couple of lactation consultants to solve overnight, but the idea is to use The Milky Way movie to launch a series of campaigns to affect change, and then measure it. With the help of producing partner, CineCause, a movement will take shape, and at the very least, parents will have full information. Mothers will create a groundswell, hopefully on a more united front, and policies will begin to change.

For more information about the film, and how to help, click here.